Andy Thomas Needs a Perp Walk With His Papi, Sheriff Joe Arpaio
If anyone requires a dose of his own medieval medicine, it's disbarred, disgraced former County Attorney Andrew Peyton Thomas.
By that, I mean that the onetime tough-on-crime prosecutor turned purported criminal needs some serious, old-fashioned humiliation, the kind the Harvard Law School grad advocated in his 1994 tome Crime and the Sacking of America.
As my colleague Paul Rubin first told readers in 2004 ("Dangerous Mind"), when Candy Andy was still sportin' a Ron Burgundy-esque mustache and had yet to darken the hallways of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Thomas advocated some sicko solutions to criminal behavior in his book.
Stephen Lemons column
One was a "modified stockade program," in which malefactors would be displayed before their neighbors in "large, open-air holding pens" at "marginal cost and general deterrence for the community."
Rubin warned the populace in his pres-cient story that Thomas was "an honest-to-goodness right-wing zealot" who truly believed in such a retrogressive concept as public shaming.
Eight years later, following a two-year investigation and a judgment by a disciplinary panel of the Arizona Supreme Court, Thomas and Lisa Aubuchon, his erstwhile hatchet woman and deputy county attorney, have been found guilty of a host of improprieties, including dishonesty, perjury, bringing charges without evidence, violating others' rights under the U.S. Constitution, and misleading grand juries.
As a result, Thomas and Aubuchon each was disbarred for at least five years.
Another former Thomas flunky, right-wing blogger and former Deputy County Attorney Rachel Alexander, earned a six-month suspension of her law license for carrying Thomas' water on a ridiculous RICO lawsuit — one in which Thomas and his former fellow partner in crime, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, accused county judges, supervisors, and civil servants of running a criminal enterprise.
Ironically, the real criminal enterprise was being operated by the Arpaio-Thomas syndicate, with Aubuchon, former Chief Deputy David Hendershott, Alexander, and others involved.
The hierarchy in that mafia went something like this: Arpaio played godfather, Thomas was his consigliere, and Hendy, Aubuchon, and Alexander were enforcers and (in Alexander's case) foot soldier.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, I need to explain why I think it would do wonders for Thomas, Arpaio, and their willing servants to spend serious time in one of those Colonial-era pillories — with signs around their necks and the general public pelting them with rotten vegetables — before getting incarcerated for the maximum number of years permitted.
A precious few say Candy has been punished enough, given that he's lost his license and ability to exploit his former title as top prosecutor to make bank in private practice.
But, the thing is, Candy and his co-conspirators need some tough love, not just for the sake of justice, but because they seem to lack the ability to feel the basic human emotions of remorse, regret, guilt, and shame.
Candy's absence of shame was on display during his recent press conference on the plaza next to the downtown Phoenix's Orpheum Theatre, a stone's throw from where his former jefe, Arpaio, keeps pricey executive offices on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo building.
Though Arpaio sent his top flack, Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre, to observe the scene, the sheriff did not make the elevator trip down to defend his tainted partner in crime, the man with whom he campaigned for re-election in 2008, the man he stood beside at so many press conferences to announce the ill deeds for which Thomas now has been disbarred.
Indeed, as he and, later, Aubuchon stood before reporters, they were alone save for the unsavory company of a ragtag gaggle of Mexican-hating nativists (to whom Thomas still is a hero).
Thomas was defiant, asserting for the umpteenth time that he was the victim of a "witch hunt," a martyr slain on the battlefield where he fought the corruption he imagined in so many.
According to him, he did nothing wrong. All his actions — from hitting county Supervisor Don Stapley with bogus charges past the one-year statute of limitations to bringing that laughable RICO suit (one he ultimately had to dismiss) to falsely charging Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe with bribery and obstruction of justice so Donahoe would drop a hearing he was holding the same day — were justified within the confines of his narrow noggin.
Moreover, Thomas envisioned himself as one in a long line of great historical figures who put conscience before obedience to higher authority and suffered as a result.
"Other men far greater than I," he intoned, "have gone to jail in defense of principles they believed in and so they would not kowtow to a corrupt ruler. People like Gandhi, people like Dr. [Martin Luther] King, people like [late Russian dissident and author] Alexander Solzhenitsyn, people like [English reformation martyr] Thomas More, people who stood for something . . . and I'm going to stand firm."
At Thomas' mention of the "Father of the [Indian] Nation," legendary for fasting half-naked and praying for peace, a woman in the crowd screeched, "Gandhi!?"
As I stood a couple of feet from Thomas, I thought: Thomas thinks he's Candy Gandhi. The next thing we'll be asked to believe is that Arpaio is Joe Mandela.
You'd think Thomas would have realized he'd jumped the shark by likening his situation to those of King, Solzhenitsyn, and Gandhi, a near-deity more revered in India and around the world than even Mother Teresa.
Yet on the Sunday news shows following this performance, there he was again, claiming innocence as fervently as a clichéd movie convict in stripes, calling his case a modern-day "Dreyfus affair."
That reference is to the famous 1890s case of French injustice in which a Jewish French army officer was wrongly convicted of treason (in large part because of anti-Semitism) and imprisoned for five years in solitary confinement on French Guiana's Devil's Island.
Um, the difference is that Candy isn't Jewish, isn't innocent, and hasn't done any time. Yet.
Both he and his former overlord Arpaio surely deserve a stint in prison. I'm not sure whether even perp-walking this pair in handcuffs into federal custody or placing them in stripes and pink underwear, à la Tent City, will evoke shame from them. But it's worth a try.
Actually, it behooves us all — especially those in the U.S. Department of Justice who have been investigating Arpaio and his department on criminal abuse-of-power allegations for more than three years now — to remember that the nefarious activities described in the disciplinary panel's 247-page report on Thomas, Alexander, and Aubuchon were the result of Arpaio's machinations.
Thomas, clearly, was Arpaio's willing tool, and despite attempts by the sheriff's PR machine to let Hendershott and, then, Thomas play fall guy, it is to Arpaio that every strand of the spiderweb leads.
Take the RICO case, which the panel's report calls "unintelligible," "nonsensical," and "devoid of any legal or factual basis."
Arpaio was one of the plaintiffs, along with Thomas. Arpaio and Thomas held a joint press conference to announce the RICO suit when it was filed, and when Thomas ultimately dropped that travesty, Arpaio again was next to Thomas at a press conference.
The sheriff's determination to crucify perceived enemy Don Stapley was the motivation for the attempted prosecution of the county supervisor.
As New Times reporter Ray Stern detailed almost a year ago ("The Feds Have Evidence Arpaio Broke the Law," May 26), Arpaio primarily was concerned with what one MCSO deputy chief said was "getting [Stapley's] butt kicked," to the point that Arpaio ordered what details would go into a search warrant for a Stapley associate.
Part of the Stapley case had been handled by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. Over the objections of Polk, Arpaio ordered Stapley's 2009 arrest. When Polk confronted Arpaio about it, he exploded, yelling at her that he had probable cause and "no one tells me who I can/cannot arrest."
On the most serious allegations in the disciplinary panel's findings — those concerning the MCSO's falsely charging Judge Donahoe — Hendershott made it crystal clear during his testimony in the disbarment proceedings that it was his boss' idea to charge Donahoe with a crime.
Not only did the panel find that Thomas and Aubuchon had committed perjury in the process of framing Donahoe, it declared that both were guilty of a federal criminal statute that prohibits two or more people from conspiring to deprive someone of their rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Thomas and Aubuchon did this by bringing false charges against Donahoe so that he would cancel a court hearing where he was expected to rule against them.
"Were this a criminal case," the panel concluded, "we are confident that the evidence would establish this conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt."
The panel also made clear that Arpaio and Hendershott were part of the conspiracy. And the whole thing, apparently, was Arpaio's idea.
It was Arpaio who formed the Maricopa County Anti-Corruption Effort with Thomas, and it was Arpaio who allowed the unit to become the duo's weapon against supervisors, judges, and anyone else who stood in their way.
Still, Arpaio is the last man standing in this debacle — a sordid endeavor that he engineered from jump.
That's because the feds seem frozen in a perpetual state of inaction when it comes to Arpaio's criminal misdeeds, the scope of which hardly is encapsulated by the panel's findings.
I and others at New Times have bewailed that inaction repeatedly over the years, so far to no avail.
But with this disbarment order, issued by presiding disciplinary Judge William O'Neil, Arpaio's guilt becomes extremely difficult for the feds to ignore.
Less than a week after O'Neil's order, former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, and former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley teamed up on a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, calling for the DOJ to either indict Arpaio or drop the whole matter.
I choose option number one.
As Arpaio, Hendy, Thomas, and Aubuchon have demonstrated ad nauseam, they are beyond shame. Or so they continue to say.
See, we have yet to put them to the ultimate test: getting cuffed by federal marshals and booked — after that, being tried and convicted.
But a trial and a verdict would take awhile. Meanwhile, those thirsty for justice would settle for seeing Arpaio and Thomas perp-walked. Hell, I'd settle for seeing just Joe paraded to jail in cuffs for all the world to see.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.